Frederick Douglas Day: This is Why You Should Remember Him

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Fredrick Douglas’ Day is commemorated on 14 February to celebrate the life of a man who fought for human and equal rights. He was born a slave but spent his life advocating for the lives of African Americans. Apart from that, he was an author and wrote several books. Douglas is an important figure in American history, which is why we’re writing about him. 

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Frederick Douglas’s Early Life

Frederick Douglas Day: This is Why You Should Remember Him
Frederick Douglas’s portrait. Source: Wikimedia licensed by Public domain

Douglas was born in 1818 to a black mother and a mixed-race father. He didn’t have a normal childhood as he was separated from his parents. He also started working at a young age, on a plantation, and after a short while, was given to another family, Lucretia and Hugh Auld.

This is where he learnt how to read and write, and then taught other slaves. He was sent to work at William Freeland before the Auld took him back and sent him to Edward Covey’s workstation. Covey was a cruel man and treated slaves brutally. Douglas was on the receiving end of this brutality. 

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Escaping Slavery

History of Frederick Douglas. Video Credit: Biography

Frederick Douglass tried to escape from his owners multiple times unsuccessfully. When he was at William Freeland, he tried but was caught. However, during this time, something good came out of this experience.

He met a free black woman Anne Murray and this gave him hope that he too would be free someday. She also supported him during this period and his day of freedom eventually came. 

In 1838, he took a train and went to Havre de Grace, Delaware, and then New York. He lived in a safe house with David Ruggles. Douglas never forgot about Murray. He sent for her and the two got married.

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Becoming an Abolitionist Leader

In New Bedford Massachusetts, they met other free black people and began going to abolitionist movement meetings. 

He came across the work of William Llyod Garrison and found out more about his slavery experience. Later, Garrison advised him to become the leader of the Abolition movement. 

Douglas toured the United States with the American Anti-Slavery Society Colored Conventions Project. He faced a lot of opposition and was physically assaulted by his critics. 

He then wrote his first book Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass:an American Slave and My Bondage and My Freedom and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

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Visiting England and Ireland

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln: Two Leaders. Video Credit: National Geographic

When Frederick Douglas visited England and Ireland, he was surprised by the amount of freedom he had. Here he gave one of his most memorable speeches “London Reception Speeches” in which he condemned American slavery.

After his time in England, he went back to America and continued his activism. This time, he wrote a newsletter and started advocating for women’s rights

When former American President Abraham Lincoln gave a proclamation for the end of slavery, he was disappointed that ex-slaves didn’t get the right to vote.

Both Lincoln and Douglas reportedly patched their differences after his assassination and the passing of the 13th Amendment, 14th Amendment and 15th Amendment. Lincoln’s wife is believed to have given him his walking stick.

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Later Life

Frederick Douglas served in government positions. He became the first black man to hold a high office.

He also became the first black man to get a presidential vote in the United States but never got the party nomination. The activist died in 1895 from a heart attack. 

Towards the 20th century, America began celebrating Frederick Douglass Day to remember his achievements. He settled on February 14th as his birthday because his mother referred to him as “his little valentine”.

Frederick Douglas has a place in black history. He’s a man who sacrificed his life to bring dignity to black people. His dedication brought changes to their lives and led to wider reforms that exist to this day. 

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